February 21, 2015, Meeting of the ACB Board of Directors

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors met on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at the Holiday Inn Crystal City hotel in Arlington, Virginia.  President Kim Charlson called the meeting to order at 9:06 a.m.  At the call of the roll, the following board members were present:  Kim Charlson, Jeff Thom, Marlaina Lieberg, Ray Campbell, Carla Ruschival, Mitch Pomerantz, Berl Colley, Katie Frederick, Michael Garrett, George Holliday, John McCann, Allan Peterson, Patrick Sheehan, Dan Spoone and David Trott.  Board member Sara Conrad was absent.  Board of Publications Representative Denise Colley was present.  Staff present: Melanie Brunson, ACB Executive Director, Eric Bridges, ACB Director of External Relations and Policy, Tom Tobin, ACB Development Director and Lane Waters, ACB Controller.  Following roll call, several guests introduced themselves.
President Charlson reviewed the agenda.  Trott moved and Lieberg seconded adoption of the agenda as presented, the motion carried.
The minutes of the December 8 and 9 board meeting were presented by ACB Secretary Ray Campbell.  Pomerantz moved and Garrett seconded adoption of the December 8 and 9 minutes as presented, the motion carried.
The President’s Report was given by Kim Charlson.  Highlights included:

  • ACB’s Press Release on our structured settlement with CV S Caremark went out in early January, and we received coverage in the Wall Street Journal.
  • ACB has signed onto a joint letter with NFB to the Obama administration urging that a package for ratification of the Marrakesh treaty be presented to the United States Senate.

Campbell moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the President’s report, the motion carried.
ACB Executive Director Melanie Brunson began presentation of the staff reports.  She publicly thanked staff in both ACB offices for taking on additional work, and indicated that she hopes to hire a new Administrative Assistant soon.  She also indicated that ACB has been informed recently that there is someone who has trademarked the name “Radio Café” and that we are pursuing legal avenues to resolve this matter.
ACB Development Director Tom Tobin presented the development report.  Highlights included:

  • ACB dropped 7,239 packets for our year-end direct mail appeal.  To date, $10,235 has been raised.  After expenses of $4,309, we have thus far netted $6,228.
  • ACB has 6 members in the President annual giving society, 7 members in the Champion society, 22 members in the advocate society and 158 in the Leader society.  All together, the members of the giving societies have donated $201,870 to ACB.
  • There are several foundations which we’ve submitted grants to which either have not responded, or, have denied our applications but encouraged us to re-submit.  In both circumstances, if we don’t receive a positive response after 3 years, they’ll be scratched from our list.
  • Analyzing our direct mail results, we netted $15,872 in 2014, compared to $13,691 in 2013.
  • ACB received $48,000 in grant proceeds in 2014, of which $8,000 came from new grants.  We have $155,000 in grants pending, and $184,500 in grants to be written.

McCann moved and Thom seconded acceptance of the Development Report, the motion carried.
Eric Bridges, ACB Director of External Relations and Policy, presented his report.  Highlights included:

  • Regarding adopted resolutions from the 2014 Conference and Convention, we received very quick, positive response from Lions Clubs International in which they have indicated they will be changing the replica cane used in their fundraising materials to better reflect what people who are blind actually use.  They have also taken several other steps to re-brand their white cane campaign.
  • Regarding the adopted resolution expressing ACB’s frustration with the lack of cable and satellite providers offering accessible set top boxes, Eric indicates he has heard from one other provider.  He also indicated Comcast will be launching a national marketing campaign promoting their voice guidance product.
  • Eric recently participated in Google’s accessibility summit.  Among other things, he saw the accessibility improvements which have been made to Google Docs.  He also met with Yahoo and Apple.  He indicated that Yahoo is putting a large emphasis on accessibility.  He will be meeting with many of these same companies and others while attending the CSUN conference in San Diego.
  • Eric publicly thanked JP Morgan Chase for their generosity in helping several individuals to be able to attend ACB’s mid-year meetings.  He briefly discussed the imperatives for this year’s legislative seminar.

Campbell moved and Pomerantz seconded ratification of the email vote for ACB to sponsor the Raul Midon Documentary.  The motion carried.
ACB Controller Lane Waters presented the Minneapolis area office report.  Among other things, he requested direction on moving forward with acknowledging donations made through the giving societies and other related matters.  Strategic Plan Goal Group 2 was tasked to work on this item.  Other highlights of Lane’s report included:

  • While we have run into a number of issues with the AMMS database, folks are able to access the program, with training, and work on their affiliate membership records.
  • The Minneapolis area folks are beginning to ramp up for the 2015 Conference and Convention.
  • All told, we have 10,238 individuals in Donor Perfect who are members of ACB.
  • Lane will be sharing contact information with affiliates for a company which can help them obtain insurance.
  • The ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk website is taking shape.

Garrett moved and Sheehan seconded acceptance of the staff reports, the motion carried.
Carla Ruschival, ACB Treasurer, presented the Treasurer’s report.  For 2014,  ACB’s total support and revenue was $1,158,725.  Total expenses were $1,065,887.  Pomerantz moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the Treasurer’s report, the motion carried.
Lieberg moved and Campbell seconded that the board go into Executive Session for discussion of issues as outlined on the agenda.  The motion carried, and the board went into Executive Session at 12:12 p.m.
The board returned to open session at 2:36 p.m.  President Charlson reported that one motion was adopted during Executive Session.  Campbell moved and McCann seconded that ACB engage with legal counsel to undertake structured negotiations in the area of accessibility to point of sale devices.  The motion carried.
The Resource Development Committee report was presented by committee co-chair Dan Spoone.  Highlights included:

  • RDC has put together a draft program guide discussing all of the programs which operate under the auspices of this committee.
  • Under the leadership of RDC, ACB is starting to track volunteer hours of service to the organization.  Through a pilot program, we’ve documented 8,134 hours of volunteer service, which equates to $192,444 in volunteer support.  This program will be extended to remaining ACB committees.
  • The Donor Pages piece of Donor Perfect which is being used to develop the ACB Brenda Dillon Memorial Walk Site is something we could make available for all of ACB’s fundraising programs.
  • RDC’s Planned Giving Subcommittee has developed a fundraising brochure and cover letter which will be used to reach out and access additional financial support through planned giving to ACB.

The Durward K. McDaniel First Timer’s Committee brought forward a proposal for a DKM Commemorative Coin.  They would like to have produced and sell an initial 100 coins to honor the 100th anniversary of Durward’s birth.  This campaign would be rolled out at the 2015 Conference and Convention.  Thom moved and Spoone seconded that we approve the production of the first 100 DKM Commemorative coins, the motion carried.
The Board of Publications Report was presented by Chair Denise Colley.  Highlights included:

  • The BOP is looking to reach more people through the ACB E-Forum.  IN December, 2014, 3,638 E-Forums were sent out; there were 3,642 sent out in February, 2015.  By comparison, the January, 2015 ACB Braille Forum was sent to 9,244 readers in total.
  • There will be one article written in future Braille editions of the ACB Braille Forum in Unified English Braille.
  • During their Editor’s workshop at the 2015 ACB Conference and Convention, the BOP will discuss how affiliates can create content which grabs the reader’s attention.

Campbell moved and McCann seconded acceptance of the BOP report, the motion carried.
The ACB Radio Report was presented by ACB Second Vice President Marlaina Lieberg.  She indicated she had sent the board ACB Radio listener counts for all of 2014.  She also discussed the kinds of data which ACB Radio Managing Director Larry Turnbull can provide.  Peterson moved and Garrett seconded acceptance of the ACB Radio Report, the motion carried.
The ACB Conference and Convention report was presented by Conference and Convention Coordinator Janet Dickelman.  She first discussed the report and recommendations from the committee appointed to identify ways to shorten future conferences and conventions.  Holliday moved and Pomerantz seconded that the board approve the report of the ACB Conference and Convention shortening committee and that the recommendations contained in it be implemented beginning with the 2017 Conference and Convention.  The motion carried with Directors Sheehan and Trott voting against.
Janet indicated she will be checking with several possible locations for the 2017 Conference and Convention, and will bring her findings to the board for action.  Campbell moved and Frederick seconded acceptance of the Conference and Convention report, the motion carried.
The Strategic Plan Goal group reports were presented.  Highlights included:

  • ACB’s Twitter feed has 953 followers, our Facebook page has 1,159 likes.
  • Goal group 1 will be looking into what useful metrics and analytics we can get from Facebook to measure how we’re doing.
  • Goal group 3 will be meeting again once ACB’s new Administrative Assistant is on board.

Campbell moved and Trott seconded acceptance of the Strategic Plan Goal group reports, the motion carried.
Officer and board liaison reports were presented.  Pomerantz moved and Frederick seconded that the Scholarship Committee convene to review all of the ACB Scholarships and come to the pre-convention board meeting with recommendations for combining like ACB scholarships with an eye toward providing greater financial assistance to students. The motion carried.
There were no additional committee reports presented.  There being no further business, Pomerantz moved and McCann seconded that the meeting be adjourned.  The motion carried, and the meeting was adjourned at 5:16 p.m.
Ray Campbell,
Date submitted: 5/10/2015
Date approved: 7/04/2015